Once you’ve cleared the first of the tales, the game opens up a bit – there are six more tales available right away, each covering a different character who ties back into Final Fantasy IV. Curiously, Ceodore is the only new party member to get billed as having his own tale, as all of the others feature characters from the first game, although Rydia, Palom, and Porom have all grown up quite a bit since their initial appearances.
And yes, there are more than seven altogether, but the point is that these events happen in a similar timeframe and don’t overlap with other characters in the same way that Ceodore’s tale does. But let’s put that to one side for a moment; we’re still going to take these on in the order they’re presented and the order of their release. I did think it was neat that the option for skipping between them existed, though, especially knowing that more unlock as you continue.
As much as it surprises me to say so – and it does surprise me quite a bit, let me tell you – I’ve been enjoying The After Years up to this point. Sure, Ceodore’s only got the thinnest sketch of character motivation, but he’s not exactly alone in this fact, and the general feel is of events cascading quickly out of control while at the same time not feeling forced. He’s lost a lot, possibly everything, but he still has the will to push through.
Of course, will doesn’t make monsters not attack you, and not too long after his dying order from his commander, he’s being accosted by beasts. The first two are barely even relevant, but the third one has him on the ropes until someone mysteriously jumps into battle. Someone with narrow features and a portrait that makes strong eye contact. Someone with long blonde hair and a penchant for appearing dramatically. Someone who is referred to as only “the Hooded Man,” despite the fact that his identity is immediately obvious to anyone familiar with the original game.
Do we have to pretend we don’t know him? We… we do, don’t we.
So, let’s recap briefly. Long after the original Final Fantasy IV release, Square decides to greenlight a remake of the game for the DS. Seems straightforward enough. But someone had an idea that tied into an experiment with episodic gaming. What if there was a sequel, one that told a new story altogether? What if players could download new installments as they came out, picking out individual episodes or watching the whole thing unfold at once? What then?
Well, we don’t have to wonder; that’s what happened. A new story was written, new characters created, and the episodes began coming out. So here we are with the PSP version, which collections all of them into a single packaged form. I mentioned back when I started the interquel between the two that I quite like the fact that rather than a straight sequel, this one puts quite a bit of distance between the events of the original and the events of the sequel; they’re connected by world and by several characters, but not by conflict.
I had really wanted to get through the whole of -Interlude- in one part, but alas, it’s just a little bit too long. You’d think there’s be a more solid sense of progression as a result, but instead it’s kind of scattershot and all over the place, starting you in the middle of leveling with an odd assortment of gear and no super-clear picture about how long you’ll be here. It’s an odd duck, is my point.
Last time, we left off with Rydia acting as if she is far too drunk to be near crystals and loaded onto the Falcon, which is weird enough in and of itself but still leaves the question of why monsters in the Sealed Cave were acting up in the first place. Also, apparently Edge is doing something, although it really hasn’t tied into the game in a significant fashion yet either. I really hope these plot threads start coming together soon, there’s not a whole lot of interlude left.
Sorry, not a whole lot of -Interlude-. That title formatting looks really ugly. Did anyone point that out?
So let’s tell the story of why I didn’t play the Final Fantasy IV remake on the DS, and the convoluted story that is the sequel to the original. Because by my own rules, it could be argued that the remake is closer to being the default for Final Fantasy IV now, especially as that’s what’s up on Steam at the moment.
See, when Final Fantasy IV was being remade, the developers had a clever idea. If the players wanted more story, why not give it to them? Why not have a companion piece produced showing what happened after the events of the main story, showing the next generation of characters many years down the road?
Final Fantasy IV: The After Years started life on mobile phones, then as a series of downloadable installments. On the PSP, the whole thing was packaged into a single game, which essentially took the remake version that was released for the Gameboy Advance (i.e. minus the improvements in the DS release) and added a new feature. Which brings us to today’s piece, a bonus piece of content between Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, bridging our way to a sequel that I’m pretty sure no one needed.